Mudeungsan National Park
As of March 4th, 2013, after years of effort by local citizens and government officials, Mudeungsan has been appointed as Korea’s 21st national park. This move adds a fourth national park to Jeollanamdo and recognizes Gwangju’s “peerless mountain” as a natural treasure for the whole country. “Mudeungsan is Gwangju’s true mountain, and even though it is beautiful and comfortable like a mother’s bosom, it has only been recognized as a representative mountain in the Honam region and has not received the status of a famous mountain for all of Korea.”
In 1972, Mudeungsan became one of the country’s 25 provincial parks, and the only one in the Gwangju area. For the people of Jeollanamdo, this move was symbolic and the mountain proudly became the representative park for the province.
During the 1980s, local citizen organizations petitioned to elevate the status of the park to the national level. During the 1990s and 2000s, provincial park management worked to preserve the park’s nature and to remove the intrusions by development. Major renovations included the moving of an Air Force facility, the removal of a Korea Telecom tower and most recently, housing and restaurant relocations near the Wonhyo and Jeungshim temples.
From late 2010 to the end of 2012, citizen groups, along with the city, provincial and national governments held a series of meetings, debates and conferences to decide upon Mudeungsan’s eligibility as a national park. Finally, on December 31, 2012, the Ministry of the Environment and the National Parks Commission approved the park’s candidacy with ascension to the status of national park, to take effect in the spring of 2013.
Mudeungsan Nationtional Park (무등산국립공원) is a mountain at the edge of Hwasun-gun, Damyang-gun and Gwangju. Mt. Mudeungsan (1,186m) features three rock peaks called Cheonwangbong, Jiwangbong, and Inwangbong, also known as the “Jeongsang Three.”
Mudeungsan’s gradual slope makes it an easy climb for all. Locals once worshiped Cheonwangbong Peak as it was considered a mountain of God. Among the more majestic of these sites are the Seoseokdae, Gyubong, and Ipseokdae peaks. At the base of the mountain are several famous temples including Yaksaam, Jeungsimsa, and Wonhyosa. Mt. Mudeungsan is also known for its beauty throughout the year. The fall autumn leaves of Gyubongam and Eoksae grass of Baekma ridge is quite spectacular. In the winter, snow and ice on the mountains create exquisite scenery as well.
Below the mountain, there is a variety of recreational facilities and tourists sites for visitors. This includes the Gwangju National Museum, a traditional Korean style building with exhibition space and artifacts on display. These items total 2,000 artifacts and include treasures excavated from the sea of Sinan, items from Honam province (made during the Seonsa, Baekje, and Silla periods), and paintings from the Joseon Period.